Involving and engaging pregnant women in maternity-related research: reflections on an innovative approach.Res Involv Engagem. 2021 Dec 16; 7(1):90.RI
Meaningful public involvement in maternity research remains challenging, partly due to the transient nature of pregnancy. This paper reflects on the development, implementation and simple evaluation of an innovative and inclusive approach to engaging and involving pregnant and early postnatal women in research.
Between January and February 2018, a Research Fellow in Maternity Care, a Professor of Evidence Based Maternity Care, and a Patient and Public Involvement Lead convened for a number of meetings to discuss how public involvement and engagement might be improved for pregnancy-related research. A stakeholder group was created, including a local community matron, a community engagement officer at a local children's centre, public contributors, and senior members of the Maternal and Child Health theme of the West Midlands Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC WM). The team worked together to develop a format for Yoga for Bump sessions: a free 90-min session, offered weekly, which included research involvement/engagement, pregnancy yoga, and a 'question and answer' session with a midwife.
A total of 67 women from two local communities in Birmingham attended Yoga for Bump sessions, which ran between May and December of 2018. Evaluation of the sessions suggested benefits to both women and researchers: it created mutually beneficial relationships between contributors and researchers, provided opportunities for women to engage and get involved in research that was directly relevant to them, and provided a convenient and efficient way for researchers to involve and engage pregnant women from diverse backgrounds in their research. Unintended benefits included self-reported improvements in women's health and wellbeing.
Yoga for Bump demonstrates an innovative approach to engaging and involving pregnant and early postnatal women; combining a free exercise class with healthcare advice and opportunities to engage with and be involved in research, and demonstrating mutual benefits for those involved. This model has the potential to be replicated elsewhere to support inclusive public involvement in pregnancy-related research. Further work is needed to design and evaluate similar approaches to involvement/engagement and explore potential funding avenues to enhance sustainability.